In Love With the Three “S’s”: Sandwiches, Sweets & Scones – Afternoon Tea at Annona at the Park Hyatt in Yorkville!

Leave a comment

DSCN9502

This past week has been bitterly cold (by Toronto’s standards; folks from Edmonton or Winnipeg are free to chuckle and/or roll their eyes) so it’s no surprise that I’ve been guzzling cup after cup of hot tea to warm me up from the inside out: milk oolong, apple custard herbal, green dragon pearls, and birthday cake rooibos just to name a handful.  All warm and cozy, all yummy.  I’m making a nice dent in my tea collection which makes me super happy because the more my family and I drink, the more room there is for new ones!  So amidst all the jolly tea chugging, I thought to myself, “hmm, I’m really behind on afternoon tea blogging, I should get on that.  Like, now.”  I have folders upon folders of photos I have yet to post just waiting to be shared with you guys so I hope y’all are in the mood for some afternoon tea posts because there’s going to be a generous amount of them in the coming weeks and months!

I’ve done afternoon tea about 15 times now and it’s become one of my favourite things in life, not just because I’ve enjoyed many of them with my best friend but because they’re such luxuries.  Some folks go on trips.  Others buy shoes.  Or nice electronics.  I do afternoon tea.  It’s a treat, one that delights me and inspires me, so much so that I’ve devoted an entire bulging scrapbook to it with a sequel waiting in the wings.  The tranquility that comes from pouring hot tea from a beautiful teapot into an equally charming and dainty teacup; the anticipation of the tiered stand being placed on the center of the table, brimming with finger sandwiches, scones, and sweets; and the utter joy that comes from appreciating pretty things, yummy things, and the awesome company and friendship that’s right in front of you.

DSCN9478

DSCN9460

DSCN9474

While I’ve enjoyed each and every single afternoon tea experience for different reasons, my favourite place, hands down, is Annona inside the swanky Park Hyatt hotel in Yorkville on Avenue Rd.  I’ve been to Annona twice and both times were absolutely fantastic.  Not only is the food delicious and the space relaxing, the service is beyond gracious.  One of the things I love about having afternoon tea here is the sense of balance.  Their dining room feels luxurious without being too formal or stiff, their dainty china is colourful and whimsical, and their menu, which changes every so often, is chock full of variety.  You can tell how much effort they put into their menu because it’s unlike anything you’d see or get at any other place.  You can tell that they’ve made a conscious effort to give you a different type of experience and taste sensation with each finger sandwich and dessert: there are pinwheels, savoury tarts, sweet tarts, savoury cones, white bread, wheat bread, pumpernickel, cakelets, cupcakes, macarons, different cheeses, meats, vegetables, fruits, the list goes on.

DSCN9461

Their afternoon tea, available on Saturdays and Sundays from 3pm-5pm for $36 per person, is comprised of a gorgeous assortment of five different finger sandwiches, three small scones, and SIX different sweets and desserts in addition to the loose leaf tea from their tea menu and clotted cream, jams, jellies and preserves for the scones.  There are 12 loose leaf teas to choose from including several different greens, blacks, and herbals, my favourite being the Eros, a yummy orange and vanilla dessert tea.

DSCN9487

DSCN9483

DSCN9486

They bring you your plate of finger sandwiches first, followed by a silver tiered stand containing the scones and sweets.  While their menu does change periodically (which you can view on their website here), here’s an idea of the type of savouries you can expect based on the delicious assortment I enjoyed the two times I went: crispy cone filled with a creamy Boursin cheese mixed with cranberries and crushed walnuts; smoked salmon and chives with cream cheese on pumpernickel bread; chicken and asparagus salad pinwheel; watercress and cheddar cheese whole wheat pinwheel; shredded cucumber and carrot with hummus on white bread.

And if five different scrumptious finger sandwiches weren’t enough to tickle your variety-loving self, the desserts surely will!  There is seriously no shortage of awesomeness when it comes to all the different types of sweets you get with your afternoon tea.  There’s a mix of fruit desserts, chocolate ones, and ones with nuts (just a note to those with allergies – which I’ll actually get to later on in the post) including a lemon white chocolate vanilla cupcake, mixed berry tartlet, plum tart, raspberry macaron, peppermint white chocolate layer cake, and a decadent pistachio double chocolate eclair with chocolate custard filling, chocolate drizzle, and plenty of crushed pistachios on top.  I just love how Annona mixes things up, plays with different flavour combinations and textures, keeping things fresh and exciting.  Their afternoon tea is, in my opinion, so modern, contemporary, and fun.

DSCN9507

DSCN9510

DSCN9515

It’s crazy to think that there’s even more to love about Annona, but there definitely is.  I mentioned how gracious their service is earlier in the post and I meant it whole-heartedly.  It’s not just in the way their staff services you in person but also in the care and attention they give you when you make your reservation.  Annona is the first place I’ve ever placed a reservation for online and I absolutely love it because I’ve written notes for them regarding requests I’ve had for seating (given how I’m a blogger and obviously take photos, I always request a table beside a window so that I’ll have good lighting) and regarding my best friend’s allergies, asking them if there is any way to substitute those with other menu items and they have taken every single word to heart and have granted me everything I’ve requested with no question or hesitation on their part and with no reminders for them on my part.

I can’t even begin to express how much those gestures mean to me because it shows me that they truly care about making the experience a good fabulous and memorable one.  Not only did they grant my request for a window table each time, they actually went out of their way to make different pastries for my best friend.  We were floored.  So much time, attention and care was taken and we were never made to feel guilty or like a burden for making these requests which I really appreciate.

DSCN9495

If you love afternoon tea as much as I do, enjoying it at Annona will be a happy foodie experience you won’t soon forget!

*****

Annona is located inside the Park Hyatt Hotel in Yorkville at 4 Avenue Road, just north of Bloor St. West.  Their afternoon tea is available on Saturdays and Sundays from 3pm-5pm; reservations are not specified as absolutely required on their website but I would highly recommend making them just in case.  You can call them at 416-324-1567 and also visit their website: http://hyatt.com/gallery/torphannon/tea.html.

 

Advertisements

Mini Croissants, Crostini, Crème Brûlée & More – Afternoon Tea at Dessert Trends & Bistro, Part II

1 Comment

f1242368

“…bringing many different generations of women together in one room to share stories and memories, reminisce over old photographs, and enjoy the bonding ritual of afternoon tea.” – Melissa Placzek, Teatime magazine (March/April 2013: 55)

And bond we did as my best friend and I enjoyed a girls day out sipping mimosas and cups of tea, enjoying scones, biscuits, cookies, petit fours and savoury pastries and finger sandwiches at Desserts Trends & Bistro (DT Bistro) on Harbord Street one sunny, beautiful Saturday afternoon.  Surrounded by flowers, vibrant paintings and cushy seats bathed in creams and cappuccino browns, we laughed, took too many photos (scratch that, that’s not possible in my world), talked about our friends, our family, and memories.

We argued over who would get the last finger sandwich and the last petit four (“no, YOU take it…no, you take it!”), we ordered mimosas on a whim, we drank so much tea we rolled out the patisserie like watermelons, we rummaged through our wallets and coin purses for those darn extra loonies and quarters to split the bill as evenly as humanly possible (the last time I stole the bill I chased down our server when she wasn’t looking and when she found out she tried to shove monies at me as we were leaving – it was about as aggressive as I’d ever seen her in our 13 going on 14 years of friendship) and we gushed about how much fun it was.

f1143488

f1321600

f1004992

For 3 hours.

Yes, you read right.  THREE HOURS.  I’m not kidding.  By the time we had paid our monies and were grabbing our bags, my best friend checked the time and gasped, “oh my gosh it’s 5!”.  “IT’S FIVE?!”  She looked at me.  I looked back at her.  We both wore the same incredulous yet amused expression.  We sputtered giggles.  “We stayed for the entire duration of afternoon tea!”

And it had truly felt like nothing.

f1052416

f1114240

f1304832

I know a food blog isn’t a food blog without, well, food on it.  And stories about food.  And photos of food.  But every so often, it’s worth it to step away from that – even for just half a post – to reflect.  To reflect on why we food bloggers do what we do.  I know we all have our own motivations, reasons and intentions, all of which make us who we are.  But I can truly say, from the happiest corners of my heart, that blogging has transformed so many of my relationships for the better and created lasting new ones.  And I continue to blog because it strengthens them.

It brings joy to my life when someone’s face lights up after I mention a great place I’ve been to that they love too and we then proceed to yap our mouths off about it.  My heart swells with happiness and pride when a person comes back to me and thanks me for recommending a place.  And it makes me so happy knowing I have made memory after memory after memory doing food-related things.  And now, afternoon tea has proved no different: a tradition with the bestie has been born.

f1154880

And really, Dessert Trends & Bistro (DT Bistro) is one of the most beautiful places to create those memories and make those lasting traditions and relationships.  Their dining area is just all sorts of gorgeous and while I haven’t explored the 2nd floor, their website has indicated that a beautiful rooftop patio and garden exist, ripe for the lounging, eating, and relaxing.  Known for their weekend brunch and of course, they’re desserts and catering, DT Bistro also offers afternoon tea service on the weekends from 2pm-5pm for $28 per person.  Along with bubbly like wines and cocktails (bestie ordered a regular mimosa while I took the plunge and went after the lavender passionfruit variety), their afternoon tea offers 9 loose leaf tea options including such flavours as Blood Orange rooibos, Egyptian chamomile, Jasmine green tea, Royal Earl Grey, Genmai Cha (a Japanese fusion nutty puffed rice and green tea), and my pick, the Marrakech Mint, a blend of green tea, Moroccan mint, and bergamot.

Each person receives their own pot of tea with constant hot water refills throughout the meal with a set of savoury tea sandwiches, scones and biscuit cookies with cream, jam, and lemon curd, and sweet desserts a la petit fours.  Now, a full afternoon tea follows somewhat of a consistent format that you would likely expect at any establishment, but it’s the execution and style that sets these tea services apart.  It’s absolutely fascinating to see how the different presentations and interpretations play out on the tiered tray of yummies.

f1213760

f1190912

f1293440

Windsor Arms makes their finger sandwiches in spiral, pinwheel style.  Le Dolci does the triangles with the crusts cut off.  Dessert Trends?  A mish-mash of everything in the best way possible!  You have the mushroom strudel wrapped in pastry, the sundried tomato and roasted goat cheese crostini, the seafood spring roll with crab and shrimp with mango and lime vinaigrette salsa dipping sauce, and the most adorable crispy, airy mini croissant filled with pickled fennel, sour cream and smoked salmon.  What’s an afternoon tea without smoked salmon, yes?  It was so very cool seeing such a wide assortment of savoury bites and was it ever delicious eating them!

Scones were accompanied by cream, raspberry jam and lemon curd and my word was the raspberry jam ever amazing!  The lemon curd is a giveaway to me; I love everything lemon so it was a love no-brainer.  But that jam.  We were both taken aback at how yummy it was!  Along with those scones sat shortbread cookies, pound cake, chocolate covered seed cookies and thumbprints.

f1230912

And no afternoon tea is complete without dessert and lots of it!  We were given an assortment of petit fours: a raspberry chocolate fudge tart, a creme brulee mini cheesecake, a rhubarb and tropical fruit cream custard, and a green tea eclair.  It was all so beautiful, different, vibrant and colourful and aside from the delicious food, what really meant a lot was not feeling uncomfortable or rushed during our tea.  Our teapots were refilled with smiles and not once did we feel like we were being shooed out.  We left with happy hearts and full tummies, knowing this would be filed away as one of the most special, fun, and delicious afternoons ever.

DSCN7624

*****

Dessert Trends & Bistro (DT Bistro) is located at 154 Harbord Street by the corner of Brunswick Ave., between Spadina Ave. and Bathurst Street.

Mimosas, Mini Morsels, Moroccan Mint & More – Afternoon Tea at Dessert Trends & Bistro, Part I!

Leave a comment

f1299136 - Copy

A Part I photo spotlight on one of the best ways to spend an afternoon, with food and friends.

f1225216

f1281984 - Copy

f0999424

f1086016

f1172416